Does Positive Thinking Work?

We’re used to everyone from television celebrities to self-help gurus endorsing the benefits of positive thinking. And thinking positively has been linked to everything from becoming successful in business to recovering from a serious illness. But does positive thinking actually work?

Yes – Sunita
I’m a firm believer in the power of positive thinking and have used the concept to achieve many great things in my life. When I was made redundant five years ago, I decided not to feel sorry for myself but instead saw the redundancy as an opportunity to change my life for the better. I wrote a list of the goals I wanted to achieve over the next five years and by using positive thinking techniques quickly began to see dramatic changes in my life. I now have a job that I love and have recently moved into my dream home.

The key to positive thinking is to think big – decide what you really want from life without worrying about how you are going to make it happen. For example, if you decided you wanted to be a lawyer but didn’t have the right qualifications it would be easy to think “oh, that will never happen”. But by thinking positively; spending time to clearly visualise yourself as a lawyer and really believing that it will happen, your subconscious mind takes over and finds a way to make your dreams a reality.

One of my goals was to own my own home but I didn’t know how I would be able to afford it. So rather than dwelling on the practicalities I used positive thinking to picture myself in my dream home. Shortly after that, I received a promotion at work which meant I could afford to save for the deposit on a new house. I believe this is all thanks to my positive thinking.

No – Andrew
To suggest that you can make things happen just by thinking positively is a load of rubbish. You can’t achieve anything in life just by wishing for it; you have to be practical and work hard to get what you want. There are lots of books and even courses that promise to teach people how to use positive thinking to get the life they dream of but I think these give people false hope and make people lazy. You can spend as much time as you like writing down goals and picturing a better life for yourself but unless you actually get on and take action, you won’t ever achieve the things you want to.

I think promoting positive thinking at the expense of common sense can also be harmful. For example, I’ve heard of cancer patients who have been told that if they use positive thinking techniques, they will get better. This might be useful for some but could be dangerous if it makes people believe they can ‘think themselves better’, rather than accepting the medical treatments that they need.

People who believe in positive thinking often say that being pessimistic won’t get results. But in life, you have to be realistic. If you want a new career, for example, it’s better to focus on the skills you already have rather than wishing you could be a film star or a model. It can be disheartening to constantly strive for the best things in life if they are unattainable.

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